Living God's Love in Hoddesdon
St Katherine’s Chapel
Although an established community, Hoddesdon didn’t officially become a parish until the 1840s. Previously it was divided between the parishes of Broxbourne and Amwell. The boundary roughly followed the line of Lord Street.
In 1336, a parishioner named William de la Marche obtained permission from the King to build a chapel. It stood in the centre of the town, where the Clock Tower is now. The permission specified building the chapel “anew”, so it may be assumed that it replaced an earlier building. However no record of this earlier chapel survives.
The building, dedicated to St Katherine, remained in use until the 18th century. It may have originally served as a place of worship for pilgrims heading for the shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, but it was certainly later a chapel of ease for the people of Hoddesdon.
It was demolished in 1835, to be replaced by the Clock Tower. AT that time it was described as “misshapen by age”.
A new Chapel
In 1732, Robert Plomer built a new chapel of ease. He was a prosperous local businessman who had inherited Rawdon House by marrying into the Rawdon Family. The reason for the new building is unclear, but may have stemmed from a quarrel with Phineas Rothwell, vicar of Broxbourne.
Plomer’s construction now forms the nave of the current church building. Plomer’s chapel remained in private hands until 1820, when it was purchased by the Church. It was consecrated in 1823 by William Howley, Bishop of London.
The first Priest in charge was Thomas Pickthall.
The Parish of Hoddesdon
In 1843 it was agreed to create a parish of Hoddesdon. The first vicar was Richard Morice.
The following year, the burial ground was consecrated, formally making Hoddesdon an ecclesiastical district. It officially became a parish in 1856.
In 1881, Philip Holland became the vicar. He championed inter-denominational links long before it was popular to do so.
Seating capacity was inadequate, and a parish meeting in 1860 decided to build a new church. The decision extended the existing building by adding a chancel and north and south aisles. This work was complete by 1865.
A tower was added in 1887 and a peal of eight bells was donated in 1901 by the local Christie family. At a dedication ceremony for the peal of bells, the church was formally dedicated to 'St Paul' a name perhaps influenced by the already-existing Pauls Lane nearby.
The interior was re-ordered in 1976, under the instigation of Rev Percy Gandon and the building was rededicated to St Catherine and St Paul.
The church has played a significant role in the lives of many Hoddesdon people who have been married within its walls, seen their children Christened, celebrated special events and mourned the deaths of loved ones.
Our history is still being made!
Our previous vicar - Revd Dr Rachel Pennant is now Chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford,
Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqni.
These pictures were by taken by Andy Ashdown at the special service in Chelmsford Cathedral in September 2023